Serbia in brief
How we help
Serbia is at present trying to cope with the economic and social legacy of the Miloševič era, the consequences of international sanctions and the damage to its infrastructure and industry that resulted during the NATO bombings in 1999. The country is gradually democratising once again. The inhabitants have regained their civil freedom, but are still troubled by high unemployment and corruption.
In the 90's, People in Need helped intensively with humanitarian interventions in the war-torn states of former Yugoslavia and thereafter during the renewal of these regions. This is why it also offers Serbia expert assistance in areas in which the Czech Republic has high-quality professionals.
People in Need has been working in Serbia since the beginning in the area of social services with an emphasis on supporting services for the mentally disabled. In the beginning, it focused on humanitarian aid, the goal of which was to ease the consequences of long-term economic problems in institutions. After alleviating critical situations, the organisation redirected its activities to long-term structural changes.
Transformation of the system of services for disabled persons
Within the effort of integration of persons with disabilities into society, People in Need supported the transformation of the residential institution for people with intellectual disabilities in Veliki Popovac. In cooperation with the Centre for Support of the Transformation, PIN arranged a set of educative workshops. During these workshops, the residential institution staff was provided with the information about the methods of individual planning and individual assistance service, as well as with the experience from transformation process in the Czech Republic. As the results of the workshops, the staff has mapped needs of 190 clients, and they have started to create the individual plans together with the clients. People in Need supported 20 people with intellectual disabilities who moved out of the residential institution, and began to use three newly established services in the community. The clients also joined the non-formal education; they had the possibility to choose from a variety of courses such as: literacy classes, a course for cleaning ladies, a course of handiwork, a course for the hairdressers’ assistants, etc. The newly gained knowledge helped them to find employment. Out of these 20 clients, seven of them have already got a job, and two of them are active as volunteers in the local community. People in Need put strong attention on supporting people who attempt to re-gain the legal capacity. In most cases people were deprived of the legal capacity while entering the residential institution, which means that they couldn’t decide about their own life at the time. Within the cooperation with the residential institution in Veliki Popovac, the documentary movie and methodical booklet were created and now help other residential institutions in Serbia as a handbook while establishing the independent living services.
Emergency refugee aid
During the refugee crisis of 2015, many of the refugees started going through the western Balkan countries. In cooperation with the Czech volunteer organization “Pomáháme lidem na útěku“ who immediately reacted to the local needs, People in Need focused on support to the most vulnerable refugees in Serbia, first at the border in Berkasovo/Bapska and after its closure in Adaševci and Šid. The volunteers were active in the field since September 2015. They have distributed food parcels, tea and warm clothes, but also have helped the local administration with crowd management, camp building and in the later period began to organize the free time activities for children assisted during the medical checks and did the organization work in the camps. PIN supported the volunteers’ activities mainly on the logistic and administrative level, provided them accommodation, food and material aid, translations of documents and communication with local institutional actors in the field. Furthermore, PIN focused on coordination among the various humanitarian organizations, mainly on the local level. On the national level, PIN has been an active member of the coordination group which is headed by UNHCR. PIN also supported a local organization (HCIT), which provides protection to the most vulnerable persons. In April 2016, after the West – Balkan route was closed, PIN and the Czech volunteer organization scaled down their activities in Serbia.
In September 2015 PIN began working in Macedonia, in the transit centre Gevgelja (Vinojug), located on the border with Greece. PIN supported a local organization called La Strada Opengate, which offers help to families, mothers with children and other vulnerable people. PIN provided direct help to the transit centre cleaning work team, whose aim was to prevent origins of diseases and its extension. In April 2016, after the Balkan route was closed, the work of PIN in Macedonia was completed.
In the beginning of 2016 PIN together with People in Peril started to support the work of volunteers in Lesbos. The volunteers have been providing night patrolling of certain parts of the island and helping with the safe debarking of people coming in the boats and rafts. The volunteers have been also cleaning the island by removing gathered lifejackets and rafts. From February 2016, PIN with other organizations focused on helping people in the camps in the northern Greece, mainly in Idomeni. The volunteers have been supported in material aid distribution and in providing psychological and medical help.
Support for human rights education
People in Need in cooperation with foundation B92 supports the collaboration of the Belgrade University and the Charles University in Prague and their effort to establish a new optional course for the students of the Master Programme for Subject Teachers. This course is focused on using documentary movies and other audio-visual means while teaching about human rights. The newly translated methodology, which is successfully used in the Czech Republic has been used as part of the course.
Post – flood help
In May 2014 the flood hit some parts of Serbia and also its neighbour – Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vast floods claimed nearly 50 victims in both countries and affected around 1 million people. The meteorologists pointed out that it was the worst flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina in more than 120 years. The extension of damages exceeded the damages of the 2013 flood in the Czech Republic in all aspects. PIN reacted to this situation by opening the collection account and sending the coordinators who had experience from the Czech flood case. PIN provided mostly material aid. 1500 families in Serbia and 1000 families in Bosnia got the hygienic and disinfection needs, buckets, brushes, glows and other work aids. In Serbia, the material aid went to one elementary school and one kidergarten; both of them were hardly damaged. In Bosnia, eight teams equipped with pressure washers had been cleaning the flooded houses for three weeks. In both countries PIN shared the know-how from Czech experience with floods and distributed the brochures with the information on how to deal with the impact of floods.